When it comes to the Health & Fitness industry, you will often hear buzzwords being thrown around. It’s what happens when something becomes trendy, and boy is Health and Fitness trending very hard right now. With children’s increasing waistlines and the current popularity surge in the Bikini Division within bodybuilding, it can be hard to define what denotes “healthy,” “fitness” and “wellness.”
As a newbie, it can be a little baffling and down right nerve-wrecking trying to decipher the information we are being bombarded with!
When I first began my Fitness journey, heavily relying on social media for motivation and inspiration caused me a great deal of stress. In my experience, I saw healthy defined as eating certain foods–and restricting others– having abs and “taking no days off.” In reality, healthy is a mindset as well as a physical state. If you have a healthy BMI, and a 6-pack but find yourself binging on a consistent basis then I wonder what good is your physicality?
That is something I struggled with. While I have never had a 6-pack or seen my abs, I found that at my lightest weight of 135 pounds I was in no way “healthy” because my pursuit of abs and the perfect body spiraled into eating in hiding. For true health there has to be a fusion between what you eat, what you do and what you look like (and no, this does not mean that you have to be stick thin or in any way skinny). This is wellness. The focus on your overall state.
Every day I deal with my previously unhealthy and negative relationship towards food so I know how important it is to ensure that your nutrition and fitness goals fit not only your lifestyle but also your desires. What exactly does that mean? For some people, completely cutting food out is effective. They work themselves to the bone in the gym every hour on the hour and will not allow a single morsel of extra food into their mouths once it’s the end of the day. For others, having a treat here and there allows them to stay sane and stick to an otherwise bare bones diet. There is a lot of shaming that occurs for individuals on both sides of the table.
The first group is criticized on being over controlling and too serious. They’re criticized for not living. The second group is criticized for being gluttonous and are believed to have a lack of self-control. Here’s the thing though: NEITHER IS TRUE! The truth? Both groups simply know their limits. They know what works for them and what doesn’t.
I, obviously, fall into the second group. I allow myself a treat once a week–sometimes even two or three times a week…oops!–because I know I simply do not want to live without certain foods or tastes. When I tried to I found myself feeling pressured to be perfect, and once I caved I not only felt guilty but it made me feel negatively about who I was as a person. I would figure since I had already messed it all up why not just keep going? Why not enjoy it now and then give it up for good? Guess what?
It never worked that way. I simply do not want to give up donuts, pizza, cheese, cereal, etc. etc. for good because I believe that food, just like life, is all about moderation. And if I want a bowl of cereal, I damn well should be able to have a bowl of cereal! You cannot work 24/7 without starting to feel burned out and you cannot party all night and day without at one point feeling as if your life is not unfulfilled. It’s the same way with food. You cannot eat brown rice 24/7 without it starting to taste a little bland and you cannot stuff your face with donuts without it making your stomach sick. So, moderation. Balance. It’s what allows you to knock back a few drinks on Saturday night and then resume your daily habits on Sunday morning.
Striving for balance, over abs, has helped me notice a difference. I do not feel as pressured by my ED. I do not beat myself up because my abs are still hidden. I simply live. Sure, I know it will take me a little longer to reach my goals but since changing my perspective my goals have shifted.
Yes, I want to one day see my abs–just to know I am capable of doing something that takes an incredible amount of focus and dedication– but I also want to hit PRs on the squat rack and press one of my friends over my head. And guess what? I do not have abs, but shit can I lift!
And that’s what healthy should be about! Do not worry about the number on the scale. It fluctuates with the hour. Too many factors involved. Do not worry about the size of your jeans. No one but you can read it. Worry about how you feel. Are you happy? Do you enjoy this? Does it make you want to continue? That’s all that matters. The rest will simply sort itself out. You’ll see.